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Useful Articles

Getting In Doesn’t Matter if They Can’t Stay In

There are so many things to consider when choosing a college—majors offered, quality of professors, extracurricular activities, resources available, surrounding community, etc.  The biggest challenge may not be getting in, but staying in and graduating.  Here are some things to consider before committing to that top choice school that may be a stretch in more ways than one.



College Admissions: Volunteer Service That Gets You Into College

Have you started an Activities Resume?  Started a list of essay topics?  What is going to set you apart from the crowd?  Here is an article to get you thinking about effective ways to spend your time that will actually help you distinguish yourself in the application process.



PayScale College Salary Report

You have probably heard the argument that graduates of more prestigious colleges make more money and you have likely also heard the counter argument that while that may be true for initial starting salaries, it all evens out mid-career.  As you explore colleges, majors, and careers, you may find the information provided at both interesting and useful.  Research such topics as Salary Potential by School Type, Degrees that Pay You Back, Popular Schools by Job, and more.  Is that big price tag worth more than just social prestige?



Save on College Tuition with CLEP

With the costs of college tuition rising faster than inflation and over half of all college students taking an average of six years to graduate, everyone is looking for ways to save time and money on obtaining that college degree.  The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams offered through the College Board may help students and families achieve just that.  CLEP is a credit by examination program offering 33 exams in five subject areas that is accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities.  Prepared and motivated students can earn up to 12 credits and jump right into advanced college courses, validating their experience and knowledge.



Tools & Calculators

One of the first conversations that needs to take place as you start your college research is regarding what is affordable and practical for your family.  I like the analogy of don’t get your heart set on a Ferrari if you can only afford a Volkswagen.  Although discussing finances can be uncomfortable, you can avoid hurt feelings and a lot of stress if you address this topic honestly and early in the process.  This link provides several tools to help with everything from estimating costs, researching scholarships, comparing financial aid packages, and more.  These tools are available through the College Board, the same organization that administers the SAT.  If you haven’t already created an account, you are missing out on a lot of great resources.  If you would like further assistance in your college research and application process, contact an ICAN consultant.



What Student Debt Looks and Feels Like From a Graduate's Perspective

Have you had a candid discussion regarding financing that college education?  This blog provides a glimpse into the reality of student debt.  As uncomfortable as the idea of having this discussion may be, it is important.  This needs to be one of the first conversations you have with your student.  Have it before you invest too much time and energy (and hope and excitement) into pursuing an option that is not realistic for your family.



Is Applying to College DURING a Gap Year a Disadvantage?

A gap year (a year off after completion of high school, prior to enrolling in college) can be of great benefit to a student who is either not academically or emotionally prepared to head straight to college after high school graduation. It also might be of interest to a student who plans to pursue a demanding major that might not afford them the opportunity to study abroad during their undergraduate experience. A gap year can provide the opportunity for personal, emotional and physical growth and does not necessarily put the student at a disadvantage when applying to college. The following article shares how the perception of gap years is changing.



Seven Really Smart Things to Do When Filling Out College Applications

You have filled in your biographical information, your educational information, and your academic information. You have uploaded your essays and filled out all of your activities and honors.  Ready to hit the submit button? Wait just one minute.  Don’t forget to proofread. Proofread again. Then, have someone else proofread for you.  Once you hit that submit button it is as if you dropped a hard copy in the mail.  You will not be able to make any changes to your Common Application to that particular school.  If you plan to apply to other colleges that accept the Common Application, you will be able to submit different information for each school so long as you submit each application separately, i.e. a different essay, short answer responses, or updated test scores.  Make sure you have taken plenty of time to thoroughly review your entire application before sending it off.  The attached article provides additional items to consider when filling out your college applications.



Did Your College Receive Your Test Scores?  Check the Portal

The Internet certainly has made many things in life much more convenient.  However, it isn’t 100% reliable and does require some follow-up.  With so many colleges accepting and processing applications online, it is more important than ever to check to make sure each college you have applied to has received everything necessary to process your applications.  Don’t rely on them to send you a notice that they haven’t received something.  Be proactive and check the portals or make a phone call to the admissions office to confirm that they have everything they need.  Checklists are also helpful to monitor what still needs to be done.  This article points out some potential problems and how to avoid or resolve them.



December College Checklist for Juniors

Okay Juniors, this is a great time for you to start preparing for your college application process.  As pointed out in the attached article, starting to dedicate a little time each week now will leave you well situated for your senior year.  Discuss your college objectives with your parents to make sure everyone is on the same page.  You have some great resources available right here in San Diego to help you get a better idea of what type of college would be a good fit for you.  Even if you are planning on “going away” to college, you can research several types of campuses without the expense of travel by visiting the variety of schools located here in San Diego.  To name a few, there is San Diego State, a large public university; USD, a private Catholic university; Point Loma Nazarene University, with a small suburban campus; and UCSD a large research institution.  Take advantage of such opportunities to get an idea of what you are looking for in your college experience.  And don’t forget you can still have that “away” experience without going across country.



College Decision Beckoning to be Unveiled?  Please, Let It Wait Until You Get Home.

Many of you have applied Early Decision or Early Action and are awaiting your responses.  As pointed out in this article, many schools are sending their admissions decisions electronically.  Although it may be tempting to open that email immediately, you might want to wait until you can do so privately to avoid an awkward moment.  Committing to attend a college is a big decision and something you want to be sure about.  Have your feelings about attending that school you felt was your top choice changed?  It is a good idea to think about why you felt that was your top choice school in the first place.  Did you create a “pros and cons” list?  You will want to review your offer(s) carefully to make sure you are making a decision that will be an all around good fit for you.



College Financial Aid and Registering for Selective Service

While the US no longer has mandatory military service, young men ages 18-25 are required to register for Selective Service, commonly referred to as the “draft."    Registering with Selective Service does NOT mean that you will automatically be inducted into the military.  In a crisis requiring a draft, men would be called in a sequence determined by random lottery number and year of birth. 

What does this have to do with college financial aid? Males applying for either federal or state financial aid through the FAFSA or Cal Grant will need to show that they have registered with Selective Service.  Question #22 on the FAFSA even has a circle to fill in and they will register for you.  For more information on Selective Service or to register, go to  Visit for information on and to complete the FAFSA.


5 Tips for Being the Best College Applicant

Regardless of how “premier” the colleges on your list may or may not be, presenting yourself in the best possible light through your applications is vital.  The attached article includes five tips for doing just that.  Remember colleges are “building communities.”  Take the time to become familiar with your schools of interest.  How do your grades and test scores compare with their averages?  Do you participate in any extracurricular activities that will make you stand out?  Take a look at application supplements, they will give you a better idea of what is important to each college.



Now It’s Up to You:  Choosing Your College

The last of the admissions letters are in.  The ball is now in your court.  It is decision time.  Did the stress factor just get turned up in your world?  This is a great article to bring things back into perspective.  One of the tools that we use at ICAN is the College Visit Pros and Cons worksheet.  You can find this in ICAN Documents under the Resources tab.

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